Tag Archives: Paul Rival

“But Will He Respect Me in the Morning?” A Century of Fictional Sex Between Henry and Anne #2

My second excerpt is from a 1936 novel by Paul Rival, entitled “The Six Wives of Henry VIII.” It originally was published in French, and apparently was the basis for the 1971 six-part BBC television series of the same name–although I see no resemblances in style or content.  The novel is very intense and dramatic, full of existential French touches, and also clearly shows the influence of Freudian psychology.  Freudians at the time believed that a woman could only find true pleasure in sexuality by giving up her “masculine” impulses and surrendering herself completely, as Anne does in this passage.

That night, in the castle of Calais, she opened her arms to Henry.  She humbled herself and allowed him to possess her.  The gentle wash of the waves was audible through the windows, the tapestres waved in the night breeze, and a dying log fire flowed upon the hearth.

They remained more than a week at Calais.  Francis had gone and the chill air of November emphasized the silence.  They had lived so long in a dream that reality surprised and alarmed them.  Anne was at length a woman; Henry had delivered her from her own unbalanced fancies and revealed her to herself, finding her interior rhythm, giving her serene happiness, the pleasure of ceasing to think, of allowing her mind and her nerves to be lulled to sleep, of being no more than a physical vessel, utterly fulfilled and submissive.  For her there were now order, peace and repose.  The sky was tranquil and colourless, the sea more grey than the sky with faint ripples and reflections and a few drifting sails.  The nights unfolded themselves, long and blissful.




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Filed under Anne and Gender, Anne Through the Ages